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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  September 12, 2016 2:00am-3:01am PDT

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there's this pile of leaves and it's where everything else is clear and flat. my smart racing a million miles an hour. i was using my boots to move leaves and that's when i screamed this blood-curdling screa scream. >> a corporate exec who made time for romance and her three daughters. >> she was the best mom. >> then she disappeared. dozens joined the search. >> we need nicky to come home. >> then they found her. >> you can't, baby. >> launching a mystery that would divide this family. >> i suspected him from the
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beginning. >> one daughter thought her step dad matt did it. the other said no way. >> it's ridiculous the lies they're spreading. >> and matt? he had a theory all his own. >> this is not the first time she's run away, okay? >> had nicky taken off and found trouble? you're thinking somebody gave her a date rape drug? >> that's a possibility. >> the trail led to this house of camera. >> there was a server with a large amount of data being stored? >> they discovered thousands of hours of tape. >> it was a torture to listen to. >> that would reveal one shattering truth. >> i got down on my knees and started crying. >> i'm lester holt and this is dateline. here's dennis murphy with "the house on sidney's cove." there's never a good day to search for a missing woman but this rainy muggy saturday? the heat of july made an unhappy
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task all but unbearable. >> take flowers. >> friends and family decided they would wear red shirts. they got themselves organized in the parking lot of a walmart in lawrenceville, georgia, about an hour outside of atlanta then set out to find any trace of a pet keep corporate executive named nikki. >> we have three kids that would love to see her home. >> amy robinson told reporters her 44-year-old sister, mother of three, was hardly the kind of person who would up and disappear without a word to anyone. >> i'm so worried about my sister. we have no idea where she is or. >> the fate of where nickie was would be answer soon enough but the question of what happened to nikki remains unclear. >> i'm sick of playing your game. >> what is clear from the
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recordings she left behind is that nikki lived a troubled and tormented life. >> this is what i live day in and day out. i keep my mouth shut, my head down and do exactly what's expected of me. >> tell me about nikki's personality? >> she and i used to laugh all the time. she was very feisty. she didn't mince a lot of words. >> as sisters amy robinson and nikki lieli were ten years apart but according to amy they were always close you two look alike in old photos. i was thinking you're swapping each other's clothes but you're ten years apart. >> that didn't stop it from happening. i wore a lot of her hand me downs. >> by the mid-'90s nikki had been married and divorced twice and she and her young daughter alex were sharing an apartment with amy. >> we just laughed putting up pictures in the apartment. >> this sounds like a sitcom.
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>> at times it was. >> eventually nikki moved out, remarried and had two more daughters with her third husband, matt lieli, a new yorker she met online. >> he made my sister laugh so we would all laugh. >> after brief stays in oklahoma and mississippi, nikki and matt returned to georgia and settled into this house on sidney's cove in lawrenceville. nikki, a well-regarded corporate money person, was the primary breadwinner. matt, a computer guy, ran a small business out of the house. >> he started going to, like, government surplus auctions and buying these big palettes of old used computer parts then rebuilding them and selling them on ebay. >> by this ring -- >> when it was amy's turn to get married in 2003, her big sis was there serving as matron of honor. >> i just want to toast to amy, my best friend, my confidante,
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my sister, to amy and dylan. >> later this night, boogying to, what else, "we are family." ♪ we are family >> as the years passed, the sisters remained close. in late june, 2011, amy organized a spa day out for nikki and her three girls. >> no boys allowed. we're going to have a girl's day. >> where did you go? >> we went to get our nails done. >> day of beauty at the spa? >> uh-huh. we got manicures and pedicures and we had lunch. >> nikki had had her toenails painted pink that day and though she sometimes had a difficult relationship with her teenage daughter, alex said that day at the spa felt like a turning point, a fresh beginning. >> snapshots, everybody looks pretty happy. good girls' day out. >> it was fun and i'm beyond grateful now that we've done it. >> two weeks later, nikki had apparently left home in the middle of the night without a word to anyone.
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when the family reported her missing two days later, the police advised them there was little they could do. >> their response was "we don't even know where to start looking." >> she's not on the 11:00 news every night. >> no. because frankly a grown woman having left her house wasn't that interest ago story. well, 100 people getting together wearing red shirts, there's an interesting story. they covered that. >> then the cameras were out? >> then the cameras came. >> this is what the cameras saw. searchers armed with maps literally beating the bushes around nikki lieli's subdivision for cues as to what might have happened to her. >> keep your eyes open. if you see her, call 911, let them know you've seen her. >> every searcher had an assignment. >> we have blue skies. >> nikki's mother had the job of going door to door, leafletting the neighborhood with fliers with pictures of her daughter. >> i don't think anybody is at
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home. we'll find out. >> even though southern hospitality may have been in short supply that day. >> get out of here before i call the cops. >> harriet pressed on. >> good morning, sir. my name is harriet garrett. >> what's the camera for? >> my daughter is missing and they're trying to give it -- we're trying to get some news coverage. >> like so many of the volunteer thars d s that day, allison rockwell was looking for her co-worker. >> i loved nikki, she was great. very smart. lots of energy. positive. wonderful. just a wonderful person. >> on the morning of the search, allison recalls she and another colleague from work, a man named derek, were running late. that would turn out to be an important twist of fate. >> 40 minutes late. everyone else started searching. >> were you given a grid or area to look senate. >> we were giving the front of the neighborhood, the very front of the neighborhood. on the right.
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>> it was the last assigned grid. >> derek and i went into the woods together and i remember having to go up and walk over a large tree and there's this pile of leaves. and it's in the middle of where everything else is clear and flat. my heart is race ago million miles an hour, i go up to move leaves at the bottom of the pile. as i was doing that, i said "derek." derek came over and he heard the panic in my voice and he started helping me and that's when we saw blond hair. and i screamed this blood curdling scream. >> and there was no question? >> no. when we come back -- >> she said, oh, my god, it's
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her. we found her. there's her hair. >> a body and a vital clue. >> the telling factor was the bottoms of her feet were clean. >> what did that mean? ugh, this pimple's gonna last forever. oh come on. clearasil ultra works fast to begin visibly clearing up skin in as little as 12 hours. and acne won't last forever. just like your mom won't walk in on you forever. stephen! stephen! stephen! stephen! stephen! see what i'm sayin acne won't last. but for now, let's be clear. clearasil works fast. this back to school, get clearer skin for free. limited time offer in stores now. to show your roots. with root touch up from nice'n easy it blends with leading shades, even salon shades. in just 10 minutes. so pick your shade. and show the world your roots... ...with root touch-up.
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clumped that attracted attention. then it was the hair. >> and i hear a scream from the woods. >> you hear a scream? >> yeah, and i tore off running into the woods and then when i got into the woods her co-worker allison was there and she said "oh, my god, it's her. we found her. there's her hair." >> how awful for you. >> yeah. >> nique leili's sister amy and her friend allison felt sure the body beneath the leaves had to be nique's. >> it was terrible. i think everybody was a little bit shocked so i just kind of went into crisis mode and i called 911. >> within minutes police, ambulances, and news cameras were converging on the patch of woods where the body was found. nique's mother harriet garrett says she heard the news when a cop told her she'd have to stop leafletting the neighborhood. >> someone in the neighborhood had complained and while he is talking to me, his radio goes
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off, it's dispatch, "body has been found." >> you hear it over the dispatch. >> yes, sir. yes, sir. >> do you actually go to that place in that little bit of woods? >> yes. well, i couldn't -- by the time i got there they already had the crime scene tape up and i couldn't get any further. >> we're going to move back. we're going to move back down, guys. >> they had it isolated by that time but i got to it as close as i could. >> soon harriet had nique's oldest daughter alex on the phone. >> do you know it's her? well, i'm out here, the police won't let me come, honey. they won't let me through. i'm right here where the police are. they won't let me through. where are you? >> i just remember fainting or something. but as soon as i came to, i took off running and i ran all the way to where the crime scene tape was. >> you can't, baby.
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>> first they wouldn't let me see her and i'm grateful they didn't now. >> as nique's family struggled to process the news, amy faced the microphones and once again became the family's voice. >> all i saw was her hair but -- um, you know, we're just waiting for the police to do their job and we'll find out more soon. >> inside the police tape, investigators carefully uncovered the body of a middle-aged female. she was nude, lying face down, and tellingly appeared to have a fresh pink pedicure. given the decomposition, the heat, the rain, investigators figured the body had lain there for a while. >> it had been out there several days. >> police detective brad ebber son. >> no clothing whatsoever. >> any obvious injuries to the body. lacerations, blunt force trauma? gunshot? stab wound? anything you could see? >> nothing.
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at this point there's no identifying documents around it so there's nothing around where the body is a that would indicate what happened. >> in the way of these thing, dental records confirmed what everyone suspected. the body in the woods was, indeed, that of nique leili. >> the telling factor was the bottoms of her feet were clean. >> connect the dots for me. >> that tells you she didn't walk out there and put herself in those woods. and let's face it she sure wasn't going to cover herself up. >> later, lab analysis of nique's blood revealed something else that was odd. there was a high level of the date rape drug ghb in her system. so now you're thinking maybe some time before this woman's death, almost immediately before, someone gave her a date rape drug? >> that's the possibility. >> m.e also finds semen? >> correct. >> had nique somehow been abducted and raped less than a mile from her home? detectives couldn't say but in
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the days before, while this was still a missing person's case, nique's husband matt told ebberson something intriguing on the phone. this wasn't the first time nique leili walked out on him. >> my wife has a long history of -- of some kind of mental imbalances, okay? and i've been finding out the past two days everything she's been telling me in therapy all these years has been a lie. coming up, the nique no one knew. stories of unstable behavior. >> this is not the first time she's run away, stock? >> and even violence. >> my father is a witness for her throeing a knife ♪ music
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. like most marriages, nique's had its ups and downs. early july, 2011, when nique disappeared, was one of the down times. matt freely admitted that when he talked to the detective the day after he reported her missing. >> this is not the first time she's run away, okay? she's run away and she's been gone for two hours. she's been gone for three hours. four hours one time. she's gone to work with a bag of clothes and then come back after work. but she's never been gone overnight. >> so he's telling you this is just the latest of a continuing episode that my wife has? >> correct. >> matthew, this is the detective -- >> in this telephone call which the detective reported, matt leili said his wife was mentally unbalanced? >> she's not happy with her life, she never felt accepted, okay? we've been in and out of therapist
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therapists. she's not no problem with girls but when it comes to a male, they are a threat. they are "all my life guys have used me for sex." >> he's giving you a hose full of information. >> i have a hard time getting a word in edge wise. >> she yells at me in front of the kids, she throws things in front of me and i'm just going "please stop, please stop, do you remember what the doctor said? is this the person you want to be?" >> matt ly leili said he contin getting a court order to protect him from his wife. >> has she been violent? >> yeah. my father is a witness for her throwing a knife at my face. i'm 250 pounds, 6'5", she's 09 pounds soaking wet, i'm being beaten up by my wife. who's going to believe me? >> he's telling you she's bats? >> that's what he said. >> as for the night she disappeared -- >> he stated they had gone out to eat and gone to a movie after he got home from work. >> we had a great time. we came home, on the way home i
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said to her -- i wanted sex so i said to her how about you put on an outfit, i think that might have set her off. >> he wanted her to put on a sexy costume. >> that fear of intimacy that i thought she was working on getting over but that set her off because she picked a fight. >> as matt tells it, the fight continued at home and ramped up. matt's father, visiting from new yo york. matt's father had been visiting. matt asked his dad to weigh in. >> he called his father matthias in the bedroom and asked matthias to tell nique how he felt about being down there and matthias came out with a line that he hadn't felt welcome, that kind of stuff and that kickick -- nique reacted by saying he was lying. >> then matt said his wife did
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something off the wall. >> i mean, wholly cow, she rips her shirt off with her [ bleep ] hanging out, no bra, nothing, and says "maybe we should just [ bleep ]" throws her shirt on the floor and says "isn't that what family does?" >> she flashed her father-in-law? >> correct. >> my wife has done some weird [ bleep ], that's the weirdest she's ever been. >> matt said the dust finally settled in the wee hours of saturday, july 9, nique in the bedroom, he on his couch in the down stairs office. >> i wake up about 6:00 to go to the bathroom my light is on in the bedroom. i go to see what she's going on, she's not there. >> her stuff was still there, her keys, her phone. >> herrers? >> yes, he assumed somebody had picked her up. >> matt told the cop it was then he realized his home security system had been turned off. >> i have a camera system in the house because i sell cameras with a dvr. she always shuts it off when she
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leaves. when she's pissed off because she knows it pisss me off. >> that's the first time you learn this place is wired for sound and pictures? >> correct. >> when nique leili's body was found days later near her home, learning the story told by those cameras became most urgent. coming up, a treasure trove of evidence. >> quantified? what are we talking about? >> thousands of hours of materials. >> what will it reveal? >> it's a torture to listen to. one day a rider made a decision. the decision to ride on and save money. he decided to save money by switching his motorcycle insurance to geico. there's no shame in saving money. ride on, ride proud. geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides.
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within minutes of finding nique's body, police raced to the leili home about a mile away. what they observed right away was astounding. the home security system that matt leili had casually mentioned to detective ebberson
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a few days earlier appeared more appropriate to fort knox than a house in the 'burbs. >> when you first see the house on the road you can see these big cameras on the eaves of the house, both sides. >> there were 21 security cameras in all with a tricked out control room to monitor and record everything. he sounds like a one man nsa. >> he was in a very low crime area. it almost boggled the mine as to why he felt he needed quite so much surveillance coverage for the house. >> odd to be sure, an observation to tuck away for later. but the duty that day came first, notification, the officers telling matt leili his missing life had just been found dead. >> the uniform guys told me that he at one point seemed like he got sick. >> matt leili may well have been sick -- sick of talking to the cops, because by now he'd lawyered up and wasn't answering any of their questions.
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so you now have probable cause to get a search warrant? >> correct. correct. >> do you think, man, maybe this is going to help us? maybe these cameras saw and recorded something that tells the story and what's up with nique? >> that was my hope. we're going for anything in the house that has any sort of memory, be it computers, be it -- he had a dvr hooked up to his surveillance system. >> the detective knew it would take time to review and catalog all of that material. so since the police had found no sign of blood nor any signs of struggle in the house, the detective reviewed the evidence he did have, particularly matt's claim that his wife was bonkers. are any of her family members corroborating this emotional instability issue that's raised by the husband? >> none whatsoever. >> this is not a woman off her meds? >> no, they're completely shocked by this version of events that matthew leili has given me. >> are any of them suspicious of matt, the husband? >> yes, they were all suspicious of matt. >> nique's daughter alex had
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lived with her mother and matt until she was 16 and there was plenty she'd had to say to the detective. >> i wanted him to know what was going on in the house. i wanted him to know that i suspected him from the beginning, that my mom would have never left her girls and i wanted him to know he would restrain her and lock her in bathrooms is. >> why did he do that? the whole thing with the cameras? >> he's just extremely controlling. >> still, despite the family's suspicion and the fact that the semen found on nique's body proved to be matt's, the police didn't feel they had enough evidence to make an arrest. there's no ankle bracelet on this man. you haven't taken his passport. >> no. >> does anybody say if you're going to be moving around tell us where you're going to be? is it that kind of relationship with the authorities at that point? >> no, he's -- there's not really a relationship with us. >> what about all that computer evidence? the video files from matt's hard drives? they appeared to be useless. after months of reviewing more than a half million video clips, the best investigators could
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come up with was this -- it's a clip of nique leili walking on to the front porch to have a smoke just after midnight on july 9, 2011. the day she went missing. after that, nothing. >> what happened after midnight in that house? >> exactly. that was the million-dollar question. >> the video files from midnight until 6:00 in the morning that day were corrupted, according to the tech guy who examined them. >> we could see footage but what it was is it was very disjointed, most of it was not time stamped, most of it was not date stamped so it was not in a manner that you could just go in and push "play" and play through everything. >> the bottom line? the police had zero, nada, zilch. so with no compelling reason to stick around lawrenceville, matt leili moved back up north to vermont to be closer to his family. that was in february of 2012, almost seven months to the day after nique's body was found. nique's stepmother betty chatham says that move effectively ended
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all contact between nique's family and her two youngest daughters, amanda, 12, and rebecca nine. >> he was to provide us with telephone number, he was to set up a skype account so we could talk with the girls. nothing. packed up, moved. >> five months later, in the summer of 2012, the investigative file passed to cold case detective sergeant john richter. >> i was in the homicide unit as a corporal when her body was found. >> does that stay with you? >> i always say there's certain cases that stick with you and this is one. >> at first, richter did what all cold case detectives do, he reinterviewed witnesses. when that went nowhere, richter took another look at matt leili's computer hard drives. >> do you think somewhere in there is the nugget that gets you to the next step in the investigation? >> i think we need to redo to see if technology advance sod i needed a new forensic guy to look at the video or whatever
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else he can find on the computer. >> turns out the techie richter needed was just down the hall. corporate chris ford had been an i.t. guy before joining the police force. >> richter came down and said "do you mind taking a look at this?" so i looked at what we call low hanging fruit. and that's where i dug through and found audio files. >> nobody had listened to the audio files before because investigators were so focused on finding video from the night nique disappeared. that's just what ford did at first, too. >> i basically looked at that video in raw format which is computer language. >> so something was recorded there? >> yes, they just wouldn't play. >> eventually ford determined the screwed-up files were no accident. someone had deleted those files and then run a cleanup program to clear the database logs. not once but twice. >> the only two times those cleanup drives were run were the days he reported her missing and the day her body was found. >> i'll never forget the day he comes to my cube and says "these videos were deleted, not corrupted." and he turns to leave and he
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looks back and says "i've got a bunch of audio files if you're on there, too, if you're interested." >> quantify in the terms of hours of material. >> thousands of hours of material that date back from 2008 to 2011. >> the audio recordings are probably best described as cringe worthy scenes from a very bad marriage. >> that's not what i said and how i said it and don't take my words out of context. when we got in that [ bleep ] car [ bleep ]. >> [ bleep ], [ bleep ], [ bleep ], [ bleep ], [ bleep ]! lower your voice! >> it's absolutely a torture to listen to because we have a woman who i know is now deceased and i'm hearing how she's living for the years preceding her death and how -- how she is just being beaten down psychologically and mentally. >> it took the detective nearly a year and a half to listen to all of the recordings. and by then he'd heard more than enough. when he learned that matt leili would be returning to georgia to
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testify in a civil suit concerning the payout from some life insurance policies nique had, sergeant john richter planned to be waiting. coming up, could investigators have it all wrong? nique's youngest daughters paint a very different picture of their childhood home. >> it was always happy and loving. >> why they're furious with their mom's side of the family. >> it's just ridiculous the lies they're spreading. >> when "dateline" continues. marco...! polo! marco...! polo! marco...! sì? polo! marco...! polo! scusa? ma io sono marco polo, ma... marco...! playing "marco polo" with marco polo? surprising. ragazzini, io sono marco polo. sì, sono qui... what's not surprising? how much money amanda and keith saved by switching to geico. ahhh... polo. marco...! polo! fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. polo!
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in march, 2015, matt leili returned to georgia since he left the state three years earlier. it was money that brought him back, a court proceeding concerning a payout from his wife nique's life insurance. >> that creeped me out. i knew he was coming down. >> this was three years later? >> but what we didn't know is that the whole federal courthouse was actually crawling with plain clothed gwinnett county police. >> they were taking him down that day. >> they were. we had no idea. >> sergeant john richter says the plain clothed cops waited all day to make their move. >> get him on the outside of the courthouse. >> who makes the call. how does it go down? >> myself and detective washington were there. we put the handcuffs on him, it
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felt pretty good. >> nique's family knew the feeling. >> i raised my hands and said "praise god." that was my reaction. >> in addition to facing a murder charge, matt leili was eventually charged with sexual assault and multiple counts of eavesdropping. a few weeks after his arrest, nique leili's daughters amanda and rebecca posted an edited video on youtube in support of their dad. >> girls, tell me what life was like growing up in your home? >> it was always happy and loving. lots of times my mom was traveling and my dad was mostly the one taking care of us. >> in the video, the girls claim their mother hated her own family and those same spiteful relatives were the primary reason their dad was in jail. >> they never liked my dad and i've been reading things online, watching the news and i can see the hatred that they have for my dad and it's just ridiculous the lies they're spreading is.
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>> for nique's family that video is devastating, what, they wondered, had happened to those girls in vermont. >> he poisoned them. i can only attribute that to them living in the house as a ma master manipulator. >> the notion of matt leili becoming a master manipulator would become a central theme when his trial began in january, 2016. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. >> the prosecutor portrayed matt leili as a couch potato sponging off his wife. >> that family was in debt, up to $300,000 in debt. >> further more, joan said, matt leili tried to control his wife by turning their home into a virtual north korea with cameras and recording devices everywhere. lenses aimed at them as they sat on the couch and watched tv.
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>> you will take a look into this marriage, ladies and gentlemen, in this case, you willer that voices of nique leili and the defendant arguing. >> nique's murder was matt leili's act of control, she argued? >> i think they got into an argument, he wanted to have sex, he drugged her, he has his way, she's not able to resist as much as it progresses, that he silences her, that he strangles her, sits on her, asphyxiates her. >> not meaning to? >> i think he meant to. i think he had it and he knew she was leaving him because she made it clear she was done. >> raise your right hand. >> the state's first witness was nique's oldest daughter alex. >> they'd be arguing and he would locker in a bathroom. she'd been shoved down stairs. there were several nights i would lay up at night and listen to her say "please get off of me, you're hurting me." >> next nique's sister amy told
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the jury about the constant monitoring at the leili house. >> we knew that he would record phone conversations that came into or out of the house. >> were you aware at any time whether there were any gps trackers or tracking devices on any types of phones or the vehicles? >> yes. i knew that he had trackers on nique's phone and when alex was old enough to have a cell phone that he tracked her phone as well. >> then the prosecution gave the court a fly on the wall look inside the leili home by playing those promised recordings of the couple's fights. >> let the record show i am now locked in a room, again. i don't want to be here, i don't want to have this conversation, i've asked -- >> let the record she's being an absolute [ bleep ], wants her way no matter what. >> it was hard to listen to. bitter screaming matches frequently about sex. >> i know that when we go two days without sex you're going to
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automatically assume i am on strike mode no matter what else is happening. don't touch me. sit down if you want to sit down. >> i'm reaching out to you. >> i don't want to hold your hand right now. >> in retrospect for the prosecution the recordings seemed to have the ring of profess prophesy. >> your hands on my throat. >> my hands were not. >> i don't care what the [ bleep ] you think, it was my throat they were around. >> get it through your head, they were not and stop yelling that story. >> bull [ bleep ]. you threatened to kill me. >> the prosecutors said nique leili's best chance for leaving her marriage came 12 days before she disappeared. after yet another argument, nique had called 911. >> gwinnett county 911. >> my husband won't let me leave the house. >> my wife is yelling and screaming and just woke up the children. >> officers dispatched to the leili home that day offered to help nique leave but, as this still photo shows, she wouldn't budge from the front porch. >> she wanted him to go, he didn't want to go, he wanted her
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to go, she wasn't going to leave without the girls. so the argument was -- they were pretty much at an impasse. >> two weeks later, nique leili was dead. in a house where practically everything was recorded, the prosecutor claimed it was no accident the video covering the crucial hours when nique leili went missing was somehow corrupted. >> the surveillance system was, in fact, recording during that time period, is that correct? >> that is correct, yes. >> the prosecutor countered matt's claim that nique somehow turned off the security system by calling the police department's i.t. guy, chris ford, as her last witness. >> so detective, in your expert opinion, then, did an individual have to go in and purposefully corrupt and delete those files? >> that's correct, yes. that's the only way i can explain why out of all the videos i can recover that's the only one i can't recover. >> though no one knows exactly what was on the missing video, the prosecutor suggested it was probably video of matt leili
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carrying his wife's body out of the house. in closing, the prosecutor let nique leili have the last word. >> you need to listen to what she says and what she lived. >> welcome to my world. you killed me a long time ago. >> "welcome to my world. you killed me a long time ago." find him guilty. because that's exactly what he is. >> coming up, has the prosecution really proved anything? >> i think their gut feeling was she's buried this close to the house, it's got to have been him. >> what you call a circumstantial case. >> yes. >> and then nique and matt's daughter says in her parents' marriage matt was the victim. >> she took a heel and threw it and i myself had to duck from it. >> was it being thrown at your dad? >> yes.
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by early february, 2016, the prosecution rested its case against matt leili. the husband was portrayed as an
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eavesdropping control freak who killed his wife during an argument. leili's defense attorney, tom clegg, insisted that matt leili was, in fact, an innocent man, falsely accused by the state of georgia. >> the they have al theory and this theory is nothing more than a hunch, it is a guess. well, if you were to ask yourself questions that might have been posed of you, if you were to have gone to journalism school -- who, what, where, why, and how -- you will find that during the course of this trial the state of georgia will fall woefully short in proving the allegations that they are making against this man. >> i think their gut feeling was, come on, she's naked, she's buried this close to the house, she's obviously hidden it's got to have been him. >> what you call a circumstantial case. >> the defense attorney concedes he had some difficult
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circumstances to overcome in this case, beginning the six hours of missing surveillance camera video of the night nique leili disappeared. clegg insists his client did not erase those files as the prosecution claimed. >> the video surveillance system was shut off at some point in the morning. matt believes nique shut it off. he is insisted he did not, that the system was shut off by nique. >> so whatever happened to her the cameras didn't see it. >> the cameras did not see it. that is absolutely correct. >> as for the audio recordings of the couple's screaming arguments, clegg pointed out most were recorded in 2008 and 2009, two years before nique died. according to the defense attorney, matt made the records with the encouragement of a marriage therapist that the couple had been seeing at the time. >> he is talking and he is conciliatory, in my opinion, he is trying to calm things down and it's impossible to calm things down. >> please, calm down. >> you do not want to do this
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with me right now, i mean it. you do not want to tangle with me right now at all. >> what did i do? >> according to clegg, the prosecution cherry picked scenes from the leili marriage, highlighting the bad and down playing the good -- bright spots like a 2010 trip matt and nique took to hawaii. they even renewed their marriage vows on that trip. >> the tapes reflect both of them at their worst. now, the flip side is when they're getting along well, when they are affectionate towards one another, when they renew their wedding vows in hawaii they don't tape that stuff. >> always the darkest side of the moon trj the moon. >> the darkest side, absolutely. >> the defense tried to show nique leili was once again acting unstable, behaving erat clay. the defense attorney called matt's father matthias to verify his son's version of that last fight between matt and nique, the one where she allegedly flashed him. >> she tore off her top and says
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"come on, let's go. let's eff like a family." >> were you expecting any sort of comment like that? >> never. never. >> once nique disappeared, clegg says, matt leili inquired about having his wife involuntarily committed and even hired a divorce attorney. a man who knows his wife is already dead, he says, wouldn't have done either of those things. >> he did not really want to divorce her, he wanted to let her know, look, here are your options. you can go get help for yourself or i'm going to go forward the divorce. >> the defense wrapped up its case by calling matt and nique's two daughters, rebecca, now 14, and amanda, 17. >> did you ever see your dad hit your mom? >> no. >> did you ever see injuries or bruises to your mom?
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>> no, sir. >> according to the girls their mother was the one with the violent temper, not their dad. >> she took a heel and threw it and i myself had to duck from it. >> was it being thrown at your head? >> yes. >> on the day nique made the 911 call, amanda said her mother complained about hearing voices in her head. >> she was pacing back and forth saying that she was tired of people talking bad about her behind her back and my dad asked her who was talking about her and she said that she was hearing voices and the voices in her head were telling her people were talking bad about her. >> throughout, neither girl made eye contact with their mother's relatives who hadn't seen them in four years. whatever affection might once have existed seemed to be gone now. >> we made our own decision, we don't like that side of the family so we want to stay away. it's not him forcing us to stay away from him. >> in closing, tom clerk argued that while the state may have proved matt leili unlikable, it
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had not answered any of those basic journalism questions -- who, what, where, when, why, or how? >> in closing i said you've heard all of this evidence, the state still cannot answer any of these particular questions what does that tell you? it tells you they have fallen wol wo woefully short of proving matt's guilt. >> after three hours of deliberation, the jury announced it had reached a verdict. >> i'm going ask you if you would stand and read the verdict out loud. >> as to count one, we the jury find the defendant guilty of malice murder. >> though not a sound came from nique leili's family, their expression said it all. before passing sentence, the judge gave matt leili one last chance to have his say.
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mr. l >> mr. leili, is there anything you want to say? >> i didn't do it and i'll be filing an appeal. >> the judge asked matt leili to rise and receive his recommendation. >> i am going to follow the state's recommendation and have you sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. >> it was a bittersweet ending for nique's family. they'll likely never see matt leili again but as nique leili's youngest girls left the courthouse to go back north with their grandfather it seemed just as likely that they would never see them again, either. >> they were my girls. i still love them this day. i taught them how to read, got them ready for school in the mornings. >> you'd like to have a relationship with them? >> i would love to have a relationship with them again. i don't know that that day will ever come but i went them to know my door is always open. but i don't know if that day will ever come. >> one murder, so many victims. >> that's all for now. i'm lester holt.
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thanks for joining us. from nbc news in washington, this is "meet the press" with chuck todd. good sunday morning, on what is a solemn day of remembrance on this 15th anniversary of the.9/11 attacks. this morning a huge american flag was unfurled at the pentagon to note the attack there, in lower manhattan a moment of silence was observed at 8:46 a.m. eastern time. that marked the moment when the very first plane, flight 11, flew into the north tower of the world trade center. immediately afterwards relatives began reading the names of the victims of the attacks at the trade center. >> lee adler. >> all told there are six moments of silence this morning,
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including one for the crash of flight 93 in shanksville, pennsylvania. president obama made remarks at the pentagon earlier today and he has already observed another moment of silence at the white house. we have a lot to get to this morning including the latest on the presidential campaign, a slue of new polls nationally and in the battle ground states, interviews with homeland security chief jeh johnson and one of the bush administration's most important supporters of the war in iraq that was prompted by the 9/11 attacks paul wolfowitz. first there was breaking news with hillary clinton and for that and her health and for that we're going to go to my colleague kristen welker who is in new york city. so, kristen, what we do know is that she left the 9/11 ceremony in new york city early. apparently had some sort of episode. tell me more details. >> reporter: she left just after 9:30, you're absolutely right, chuck, a little early. the campaign saying she wasn't feeling well. let me read you the campaign's statement, it says: secretary clinton has headed to the
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september 11th commemoration ceremony to greet some of the families of the fallen. during the ceremony she felt overheat td to departed to go to her daughter's apartment and is feeling much better. that is where we caught up with her moments ago, she left chelsea clinton's apartment which is where i am right now, walked outside unassisted, we asked her how she's feeling, she said she's feeling much better. i think we have some of that video that we're playing right now. i also asked her what happened, we asked her that question multiple times, she didn't respond. she said instead it's a beautiful day in new york. she did pause to talk to a child who was walking by and then she got into her van and drove off. we don't know where she's heading right now but, chuck, a little bit of broader political context here as we have been reporting there have been republican conspiracy theories about her health saying she is not in good health. the clinton campaign has pushed back strongly against that. so has secretary clinton's physician saying that she is in in

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